Is there a better forum than the press conference?

It’s a question that emerged at Roland Garros after Naomi Osaka initially released a statement on social media about her decision to opt out of post-match media obligations prior to the clay-court major beginning. The four-time major champion would later withdraw from the tournament ahead of her second-round match, opening up about her mental health struggles.

On the latest Podcast, host Kamau Murray and New York Times correspondent Ben Rothenberg engaged in a wide-ranging discussion centered around the hot topic, from the current system in place to the potential fragility of an athlete’s mindset.

“We’re not trying to plant seeds of doubt or make a player collapse, especially pre-tournament. That’s not ever a goal,” stated Rothenberg.


The quality of questions asked by journalists was also widely debated on social media throughout the French Open. For Rothenberg, who affirmed “we all can’t live in bubble wrap,” he feels most of what is asked has validity.

“You lost first round the last three tournaments, how are you feeling going into this one?,” is not an inquiry that’s over the line, said Rothenberg.

“Well, that’s also a bad question,” responded Murray. “I feel great about it…”

Rothenberg then explained why that question isn’t as bad on the surface as it may seem.

“Some of them might answer them that way. But even honestly that sort of answer can be revealing how they do it. If someone says, ‘I feel OK because I actually feel like I’ve been doing the right things in those matches.’ That would tell you one thing. Another person might say, ‘Things are not working out, I had to shut it down,’ and tell you their whole journey.

“You learn a lot more about players and characters when seeing how they handle the hard times than the good times.”